Read The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd Levi Pinfold Online


There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.      One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a whitThere are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.      One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.      Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?...

Title : The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781406367584
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill Reviews

  • Maggie Stiefvater
    2018-12-01 19:14

    Sometimes a book feels like it has always existed. It’s not that it’s predictable nor unadventurous, merely that you can’t shake the feeling as you turn pages that it is familiar — you’ve read it before or just known that it existed for so long that it feels as if you had.The Secret Horses of Briar Hill was that way for me. Other blurbs for it compare it to The Secret Garden (it does have a secret garden) or The Chronicles of Narnia (it does have tiny British children in big houses), but really, I think what they mean is this: it feels like it has been sitting invisibly on the shelf next to those classics for decades, waiting to be discovered. It feels old. Right. Uncovered, rather than written. It is a simple story: a girl in a World War II children’s hospital —Emmaline — has been seeing winged horses in the mirrors of the building. When she discovers that an injured pegasus has arrived in a secret garden, an intimate and wintery quest unfolds as Emmaline performs tasks for the Horse Lord. It is a book about the magic of hidden places and the colorless misery of war and also a book about kindness in all its forms. Originally, I had typed that it was also a book about illness, but the draining fight against the “stillwaters” in Emmaline’s lungs is really just another battle in the war devastating Britain.The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a morsel of a book, just 231 pages on my e-reader. I read it in a single hour and a half session, which felt perfect: the ability to linger in the shivering atmosphere of the book without interruption seemed right. Theoretically this is a middle grade novel, but I can’t decide how I feel about that. I would hand this immediately to someone who had enjoyed CODE NAME VERITY or FROM SALT TO THE SEA or any of the other YA historicals I’ve loved within recent memory and I’d also hand it to any adult who grew up with the classics mentioned above and expect them to enjoy it, but I’m curious to know how my eleven and twelve year olds feel about it. So much of what made this book poignant to me was empathizing with the unsaid experiences of the adults around the children in the book, and although the book would work fine without that insight, there is one beautifully heartbreaking moment in particular that becomes muted if you aren’t paying close attention to the adults in the scene.I adored it. It is not a bombastic novel nor an epic novel. It’s a sweet, sad, beautiful whisper in your ear. Enjoy.

  • LolaReviewer
    2018-11-11 02:27

    There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital... 4.5 stars. The Chronicles of Narnia meets The Secret Garden in this enchanting and deeply felt story of friendship, hope and courage.The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is everything a middle grade novel should be.Majestic, magical horses dwell the Briar Hill hospital. To its patients, they are invisible, but Emmaline sees them in the mirrors everywhere she goes… and now one has found her way in the sundial garden.But she needs help, for she is chased by a dark horse. Emmaline will do anything to help her new friend.With beautiful writing, Megan Shepherd creates a world where darkness can be defeated if one is brave enough to dare fight against it and have hope light will seep through.No one knows if the horses are truly there or if they’re purely fabricated by Emmaline’s imaginative mind – and that is where the magical realism comes in.It’s a splendid tale set during World War II with a charming set of characters who learn from each other, from their experiences and even teach us a thing or two about living and believing.Megan Shepherd has a real talent for writing middle grade books. I hope this will not be her last.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  • karen
    2018-11-23 22:16

    i definitely enjoyed reading this book, but like Rooftoppers, i have a feeling it would have been something i enjoyed even more if i had read it when i was a little girl, one of those books you read during those soft, impressionable whitebread years, which stick to your soul and become a part of who you are. i have a lot of those books, the most important of which was Island of the Blue Dolphins, and while this is nothing like that in theme or tone, it gives me the same impression of having that power to stick in the heart long into many ways, this feels like a classic children's book. i've never read The Secret Garden, but i know its basic premise, and there's some overlap here - sickly orphanish child, secret ahem garden, and magical experiences both complicating the real world and making it more bearable. the writing is simple, restrained, and lulling, while still being terrifically haunting. but it's also very modern in some ways, in that it isn't didactic like so many children's books of yore, and it is very ambiguous in both its treatment of the fantasy elements and its ending.This is my secret: there are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital.emmaline lives in a children's hospital run by nuns, afflicted with the "stillwaters," where the days blur colorlessly into each other; turnips and tea, lessons and doctors, and she spends most of her time with her bedridden best friend anna, daydreaming and drawing the white winged horses only she can see in the hospital's mirrors. she has little excitement in her life until the day she rebelliously scales the garden wall and discovers that one of the winged horses has crossed over from the mirror world, unable to return because of an injured wing. emmaline later discovers a letter from 'the horse lord,' instructing her to protect this horse, called foxfire, from the adversarial black horse who is in pursuit. and an adventure is born.the book is a perfect blend of real and fantasy elements, and for all the threatening power of the black horse, much of the book's action is grounded in the real world, where the slights and challenges emmaline faces during her daily life are small: other patients stealing her chocolate, wanting colored pencils of her own, railing against the restrictions imposed on her by her doctor. and it's all so delicately handled because these petty grievances are just distractions from the much bleaker big picture - that these are characters quarantined in a children's home for tb patients during WWII. so not only are they terribly sick, but there's a lot going on in the outside world that impacts their lives and has already taken so much from them. these children suffer privations and limitations both because of their health and because of the war, causing them to fetishize the little they have, like colored pencils and comic books, and leave emmaline desperate for distraction and the possibility of a magical adventure, despite the real risks to her health. war, illness, an uncertain future - all of this is constantly present, running underneath the squabbles and jealousies, but it's not in your face. and i think that's what gives it the sense of lasting appeal - as an adult, you can't get the fact that there's a war on out of your mind, which gives it a different resonance than reading it as a child would, where you're allowed to focus on the immediate details of the story and forget the background details, as horrifying as they are. in any case, it's a beautiful story, beautifully illustrated, and even though i'm congenitally unable to experience the cries over a book, i'm sure many of you will find this pleasantly weepy.ride true, my friends…*********************************this cover is killing me.

  • Hannah Greendale
    2018-11-19 19:19

    Emmaline May has a secret: there are winged horses living in the mirrors of Briar Hill. Once the home of a princess, Briar Hill is now a hospital for sick children whose parents are fighting in the war. When Emmaline sneaks into Briar Hill's forbidden garden, she discovers a winged horse who cannot return home to the mirror-world until her injured wing is repaired. Only Emmaline can see the horse, so she alone must save it, but a creature of darkness prowling the skies and her own failing health threaten to stop her. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill invites readers to explore a pocket of the real world where magic exists beyond a thin veil. Such wonders are brought to life with fanciful descriptions and images portrayed with poetic finesse: The mirror-horse is nosing through the half-finished cup of tea that Anna left on her bedside table. He has a soft gray muzzle that is beaded with droplets of tea, and quicksilver hooves, and snow-white wings folded tightly. "Have you really seen the winged horses?" He picks up his hammer again. "Yes." "In the mirrors?" "In the frozen lake on the Mason farm, just beyond the back fields. When the sun shines, the ice is like a mirror, and you can see them plain as day." Because the book takes place during World War II, mature subjects are introduced - such as bombings, PTSD, and repressed trauma - but are handled in a delicate manner. Death is also a prevalent topic, as Emmaline and the other sickly children at Briar Hill have such a tenuous hold on life. When he thinks no one is looking, he runs his fingers over the chicken's white, white feathers, and I wonder if it feels the same on his fingers as it would on mine, if soft feathers feel the same for Benny and Anna and Sister Constance and Thomas and me, or if it's only beneath my hands that chickens feel warm and alive, like stones left in the sun. Then Thomas buries the bird under red dirt, and the bird is gone. Every few chapters the book is graced with a moody illustration that exemplifies the sense of darkness pervading Emmaline's world. In every illustration the characters are depicted in silhouette as though they're all as ephemeral as shadows, clinging to life with feeble fingers. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a riveting, heartrending story in which an ailing girl's vivid imagination brightens the shadows of a war-torn country and whose hold on magic breathes new life into a house full of dying children. I know why the Horse Lord crossed into our world [. . .]. It is because our world that stretches out below - the hills and the trees and the sun breaking over the rooftops - is more than just brown and gray. There is color here. There are greens and reds and blues as deep as the sea.You just have to know where to look.

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2018-11-28 21:16

    This book is too sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He hands me a blue ticket. He uses the tickets so the Sisters will know what treatment we need each week. There are three colors: Blue for patients who are well enough to go outside for exercise and fresh air. Yellow for those who must limit their activity to indoors. Red for the ones-the one, because it is only Anna-too ill to leave their bedsThat's all I have, it's too sad! The author's note is sad too. But it is what happens or happened in that time long ago. =( Poor little kids!

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2018-11-16 22:17

    Now available! 4.5 stars. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:Emmaline knows a secret: Briar Hill, a Shropshire mansion turned into a children’s hospital during World War II, has beautiful winged horses that live in the mirrors of its elegant rooms. They move in and out of the mirror-rooms, walking through doorways, nosing half-finished cups of tea. But only Emmaline can see them, and she keeps the secret to herself. She knows the boys like Benny and Jack will tease her mercilessly if they knew. She doesn’t even tell her best friend Anna, who’s the most ill person at the hospital, for fear that she’ll distress Anna.One day Benny steals a treasured piece of chocolate from Emmaline and eats it. Upset, Emmaline runs outside and (breaking the hospital rules) climbs over the ivy of a walled garden on the grounds. Inside the abandoned garden, a beautiful white horse with a soft gray muzzle, a star-like blaze of dark hair between her eyes, and snow-white wings approaches her. Emmaline notices that the horse’s wing is hurt and figures that the horse must have somehow come into our world from the mirror world to find a place of healing.Soon Emmaline begins finding written messages in the garden, signed by the Horse Lord, telling her that this winged horse, Foxfire, needs her help to avoid being captured by the sinister Black Horse that flies about the hospital by night, hunting for Foxfire in the colorless moonlight. Before the moon is full again in two weeks, the Horse Lord’s message tells Emmaline, she must surround Foxfire with large, colorful objects, one for each color of the rainbow, to create a spectral shield that will protect Foxfire from the Black Horse, whose eyes are burned by color. But there are very few bright colors in Emmaline’s drab world.Everything at Briar Hill is white snow and gray stone. It is the dull browns and greens of soldiers’ uniforms, and the black of nuns’ habits. No wonder we have drawn the Black Horse straight to us. Our world is colorless midwinter.This will be a huge challenge for Emmaline. But the Horse Lord’s messages, always signed “Ride true,” encourage her to do her best.The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a gem of a middle grade book, wondrous and bittersweet. Surrounded by sickness, death and fear, and burdened by traumatic memories, Emmaline treasures her glimpses of the mirrored horses and her growing bond with Foxfire. The search for brightly colored objects at the Horse Lord’s behest gives her a new purpose, but it also leads her into trouble and some questionable decisions, and even into danger.Megan Shepherd gracefully captures the atmosphere of this one small corner of the World War II conflict, children with tuberculosis who were evacuated to hospitals and wards in the British country. Emmaline calls tuberculosis the “stillwaters,” partly because she feels that her lungs are as “still and thick as swamp water,” running deep within Emmaline’s body. But it’s also a reminder that of the proverb that still waters run deep, and that children and teens (not to mention older people) may be struggling with deep, hidden troubles ― whether physical sickness or other types of distress ― that may not be visible to others.As the plot unfolds, we gradually learn more about Emmaline’s past and how that affects her now, which sheds new possible interpretations on Emmaline’s experiences. One of the intriguing aspects of The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is that it’s unusually ambiguous for a middle grade book. There are different possible interpretations of the events related by Emmaline: this might be a truly magical story, or it might be that the winged horses exist only in Emmaline’s imagination. Readers will need to decide for themselves what they believe actually happened. In some books this ambiguity would frustrate me, but here I found it lovely and emotionally touching.The Secret Horses of Briar Hill deals with deeply serious issues but is delightfully imaginative at the same time. It’s a timeless story, combining fantasy and magic with sometimes dark realities. This book deals with some difficult subject matter but does so in a way that isn’t too ponderous or distressing for young readers, and inspires us to keep hope, to follow our dreams. To ride true.I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Delacorte Press, in exchange for a review. Thank you!

  • Maya
    2018-12-10 20:20

    This book...this book! It does something to you. All the emotions, from joy and true happiness to almost unbearable pain, all of it is so worth it! At war times, sometimes your own fantasy and magical world can be your saviour. And that's exactly what this book is all about. It's a mix of true facts and wonderful fantasy, created by Emmaline, one of the sick children at Briar Hill hospital. Since the war is upon them and dark days lay ahead, they try to find laughter and joy wherever they can. Be it among them, mysterious groundskeeper Thomas or in the winged horses that live in the mirrors and that only a few chosen can see. Aside from being a wonderful story that will make you smile, it's also a story that will make you sad and think about things that truly count in this would. Life's too short and therefore you have to appreciate every second of it. Read this book, because it will truly touch you!

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2018-11-15 19:19

    This book is so incredible, everything from its innocent and nostalgic premise to its vibrant themes of escapism and magic. It's definitely one I'd recommend to anyone who loves great stories. :)

  • Figgy
    2018-12-09 19:32

    Actual rating 4.5The images within this book are evocative, gorgeous, and just downright perfect, with occasional double spread images that help to fill out the picture. But the words in themselves will reach right into your heart and pull on those strings. In truth, my feelings about this book actually grew overnight, between staying up late to finish the last few chapters and sitting down to write this review the following evening.Upon closing this book, I felt there were too many things left unanswered, but after letting it sit for a day the full picture has become clearer, with the areas that felt less well fleshed out a day ago opening up to all the possibilities of interpretation.This is a story about a time when everyone was on high-alert, and the battle on the front lines wasn’t the only one being fought. This is a story of kids who have experienced loss and will continue to do so, whose only personal items were donated by people across the pond in America. In this world, everyone is broken in one way or another.Dr Turner is like Thomas: he isn’t whole. Only whole men can go to war to fight the Germans. But what Dr Turner is missing isn’t an arm or a leg or even a finger. It’s a part of his heart. It’s the daughter and wife he lost to the bombs. The missing part that makes him twitch when there is a thunderstorm – like that one time when lightning struck the roof and he crawled under the kitchen table like a dog and made a strange, frightened sound, until Sisters Constance and Mary Grace coaxed him out with weak tea.The rest of this review can be found HERE!

  • Neil (or bleed)
    2018-11-21 03:25

    Whether I believe the horses in this book are truly magical or just a figment of imagination from the main character's mind, the impact is still the same. I loved this book! And I loved reading it!The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is an evocative, profound middle grade novel that reminds us of hope despite the tragedies this world brings. It's a enchanting tale of friendship, of love, courage and determination to push through with life. It's a great novel that stays with you for a long time and will make you believe that miracles do happen.Thank you, Lola, for recommending it to me! :)

  • Megan Shepherd
    2018-11-17 19:14

    I've never rated one of my own books before, but this one has a special place in my heart. I'm giving it five stars for that beautiful cover, for the blood, sweat, and tears between the pages, and for all the many people who helped and inspired me along the way. Thank you all, and happy reading.

  • Jessica
    2018-11-27 21:31

    Beautiful book! Set during WWII, a young girl at a hospital for tubercular children in Britain makes a startling discovery: there are winged horses you can only see in the mirrors of the hospital. But are they real, or a product of a fevered brain? And is it the horses who need her help, or does she need theirs?Very much reminded me of books like The Secret Garden, which Shepherd cites as an inspiration and childhood favorite in her Author's Note.

  • Ivonne Rovira
    2018-11-24 21:23

    Some children’s books are simply wasted on children: The Little Prince, Outside Over There, The Polar Express, The Book Thief, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the Harry Potter series, Flotsam, The Magic Thief and its sequels.Add to that select list Megan Shepherd’s The Secret Horses of Briar Hill.Like so many English children during World War II, Emmeline May has been sent to Shropshire; however, unlike those other children, Emmeline and the other children at Briar Hill hospital has not been sent to evade the blitz, but to convalesce from a disease she calls “stillwaters.” While all of the children at Briar Hill share the same illness, it is only Emmeline that knows the secret: As she explains in the first chapter, around the other children, I have to keep secrets to myself.But I’ll tell you.This is my secret: There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Brian Hill hospital.But then one injured white horse escapes the confines of the mirror-world and enters Emmeline’s world. And Emmeline will do whatever it takes to keep the wounded wingèd wonder safe. Shepherd’s novel is so moving that I can’t see how I can ever forget it. It is about more than determination, imagination, and the healing power of kindness — although all of those elements are in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. It’s about magic and love and heartache and making the best of what we’re dealt. Highly, highly recommended.In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Random House Children’s Delacorte Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

  • Book Riot Community
    2018-11-21 23:21

    Trapped in a hospital, surrounded by children inflicted with stillwaters, Emmaline keeps a secret: she can see winged horses in the mirrors. When one of those winged horses arrives injured in her world, it’s up to Emmaline to protect it – but how can you protect something so magical when you’re barely able to stand? The Secret Horses of Briar Hill pushes the boundaries of magical realism, leaving readers entirely uncertain as to whether or not the magic is in Emmaline’s heart or in her hospital – but the ultimately hopeful ending will satisfy even the most disbelieving reader. Filled with beautiful prose and moments of unbridled tenderness, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is the perfect book for both middle grade reader and parent.–Nicole Brinkleyfrom The Best Books We Read In July 2016:

  • Roshani Chokshi
    2018-12-07 21:16

    Gorgeous middle grade that reminded me of The Secret Garden and The Fall (an amazing, slightly trippy film directed by Tarsem Singh that I also recommend). The voice and pacing was perfect. The story was heartbreaking, and Emmaline May is a character I think many younger readers will adore.

  • Espe
    2018-12-11 21:22

    Reseña completa:⦁ La ambientación: se desarrolla en la segunda guerra mundial, un enclave que ha dado historias desgarradoras y muy buenas, pero aquí Megan Shepherd solo lo ha utilizado como marco de acción, porque la verdadera importancia está en la protagonista y su lucha interior (por la enfermedad que padecen) y la guerra es una manera de ver las consecuencias para los más pequeños. Una estrategia que funciona a las mil maravillas para regalarnos una perspectiva diferente de una etapa cruda.⦁ Sentimientos: Te remueve todo por dentro, te destroza, te deja en vilo, pero también te da alegrías, te hace sonreír y vivir la historia con los ojos de un niño lleno de pureza. Es una historia bonita y tierna y el mensaje que deja me ha encantado.Una historia preciosa y mágica.

  • Katherine
    2018-11-27 23:24

    ”I have a secret.But I’ll tell you.There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital.”Synopsis: A little girl stuck in a hospital dares to make us cry with her visions of horses haunting the halls and mirrors of the rooms and corridors she dwells in.Biblio-BabbleIt’s a Hard Knock Life: Emmaline has tuberculosis, known to her as the still-waters. She lives in a converted mansion that was transformed into a hospital along with other children who have her condition. I thought the vibes were very much akin to the musical Annie, in regards to the children who lived there, though not the conditions. Emmaline may be the heroine, but Shepherd makes it so that you feel compassion for all the children living there, from Anne, the closest thing Emmaline has to a friend right down to the hospital brat Benny. Differences aside, they are not only united by their illness in a sinister sort of way, but also the quiet acknowledgment that even though they will probably never leave the hospital, they have that glimmer of hope inside of them that they will get better. They’re just like any other children with hopes, dreams, and fears. Friendships and jealousies don’t subside just because you’re ill. And the way they ban together in times of trouble will no doubt tug at readers heartstrings. Victorian Era Timelessness: The blurb on the back of the book states that this is a cross between The Secret Garden and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And whatever genius thought of that mash-up comparison should get a raise, because they were spot on. So spot on, in fact, that this book should probably be alternatively titled “The Secret Wardrobe in the Garden of Briar Hill That Has Horses.” All kidding aside, this book had the calming, tranquil feel of The Secret Garden but with the everlooming backdrop of WWII with children hiding in the countryside akin to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, topped off with a touch of magic. There was something just so calming about the setting and the way that it was narrated. It had the feel of a Victorian classic just sitting on the shelf collecting dust, just waiting to be read. You Don’t See It. You Feel It: There is no doubt going to be a questioning child who read it and asks themselves (or an adult): but are the horses real? Emmaline claims she sees horses in the mirrors of the hospital, and in the garden where she’s not supposed to roam. One particular horse is in danger of being attacked by the Black Horse, and with the Horse Lord’s help tries to save her newfound friend. But towards the end, as her sickness gets worse, one begins to wonder if the horses were indeed, real? The thing of it is, though, is that Megan Shepherd manages to make her characters so real that if you think they aren’t real, it’s like a betrayal to Emmaline herself. There might be some doubt in your mind, but you want the horses to be real, just for her sake. So while the meaning is left up in the air (as well as the ending), it is up to readers to decide whether or not they will use their imagination to decide what is real and what is, in fact, just fiction. Onion-Chopping Ninjas: I can’t lie to you, dear readers; this book is sad. Sad as in ‘I Just Saw an ASPCA Commercial’ sad. Sad in the sense that when you find yourself reading, you won’t notice the silent tears falling down your cheeks. It’s a quiet kind of sad; an inevitable kind. You know what the fates of most of the kids will be in the hospital. They’ll never get better and never come out. All the color in the world and all the Horse Lords out there won’t be enough to save them from the ravages of the disease, or the heartbreak of the loss of relatives or family members. The sense of utter hopelessness that seems to set into their young minds; a feeling children that young should never feel. So when asked if this is a sad book, the answer is yes. There will be onion chopping ninjas in your kitchen, and everywhere else you decide to read this book at.There Is Still Hope: As well as sadness, another surprising feeling will come up when you read this book; hope. Much like WWII, with all the devastation being heaped upon the English people, there was always that underlying sense of hope that seemed so far out of reach, but at the same time so close. Emmaline perfectly embodies the spirit of the English people during this time; she might not always keep calm, but she carries on. She brings back pops of color into her otherwise gray world, and her mind and spirit are not so ravaged by the still-waters that she doesn’t believe in the things that might (or might not), be there. She hopes that the horses that have been paying her visits, the horse that she tends to and loves so dearly, are as real as the war that is raging on in her homeland. So while yes, there is sadness in abundance, there is also plenty of hope to drive out that sadness.****************************Whether you decide the horses in this book are real or not is your decision alone. But what can never be made up is the fact that this deeply melancholy yet eternally hopeful book will rip your heart to pieces and yet somehow, in its own magical way, manage to put the pieces of it back together, and then some. Ride true.

  • Kitkat
    2018-11-23 22:21

    The book is really makes me feel happy and inspired. This book is a rollercoaster of emotions that make me love it. The main character is supposed to be helpless but she overcomes so much. Even though she's really young she lost so much but still hopes and believes in the beauty of the world. Her struggles make this book real and relatable that made me enjoy it. I predicted a little bit of the plot but I was still shocked sometimes. When she endures the grief of her friend really made me love her more and sad at the same time. I loved the book so much!

  • Lindsay Cummings
    2018-11-10 20:20

    Megan Shepherd has such a great writing voice...I instantly felt that it was her writing, when I picked this up. a lovely story, perfect for kids but lots of deeper meanings for adults as well. I loved it!!

  • Carina Olsen
    2018-11-22 02:34

    I can't begin to tell you how happy it makes me to have been able to read and review this book so early, when it isn't even out until October. It means the very most to me. Thank you so, so much to Anna for sending me this print ARC for review. <3 Simply the most gorgeous. This cover is truly something special. I adore it.I'm unsure about how to review this stunning book, though. Because I didn't love it. But I liked it so so much. The writing is gorgeous. The characters are so interesting to read about. The plot was a bit boring, but the background was simply amazing. The war. The children being sick. It was so good to read about.I'm giving this book a three star. But it is a very positive three star rating. Because I really did like it a lot. And it is so gorgeous looking. I cannot wait to buy a hardcover of it when it comes out in October. There is a few pieces of stunning artwork inside this book, but there will be a few more in the final copy. And I can't wait to see them all, finished. They will be stunning, I'm sure of it. While I didn't love this one, I do think so many others will love it a lot. Especially children. Though it was a bit heartbreaking too, and it almost made me cry. Which is always a plus. Some things were a bit silly, but I still found this book to be pretty beautiful. I don't really like horses, so I didn't feel that much for the horses in this story. But I loved how much Emmaline cared.This book is told from the point of view of Emmaline. I'm not sure how old she is, which bothered me a little bit. I wanted to know her age. But I didn't mind too much. She was young. She was adorable. I liked reading about her a lot. I hated that she was sick. My heart broke for her. I loved her relationship with another girl in this hospital for children, Anna. She was older, and she was so sick. It broke my heart. I loved reading about it, though. Felt like it was written well. I wish Anna had been loved by someone.The story takes place in a hospital for children, run by a few nuns. Which I liked, as they seemed like kind women. But this book also takes place during the war. And it is so sad at times. The children don't have much at all. Which is just so depressing. But also interesting to read about. I love reading books about the war. Though this doesn't focus much on it at all. More about the children. All of whom are sick, and many might end up dead. It was pretty sad. Yet interesting to read about. I liked reading about it.One thing that bothered me a lot was how Emmaline was with the other children, besides Anna. They didn't like her. They called her a monster. And my god. It broke my heart. Because she didn't do anything about it. Nothing at all. Not even when a mean boy ruined her pencils. She told no one. I just. I don't get why. I would have done something about it, because oh, it was so sad and mean of him. Ugh. But this boy. He was mean so often. Yet near the end I think I ended up liking him. Wanted to read more of him.I should probably mention that this book is about horses. Winged horses. That only Emmaline can see, through the mirrors. Which was pretty sweet. But then she finds a horse in her own world, and she is hurt. Emmaline has to help her. And while I found it to be interesting, I didn't love this part of the book. It didn't mean much to me, because I wasn't able to care. Why did she want to help the horse? I didn't see a connection between them. But it was still pretty cute. Maybe. The way she helped was a bit weird.My favorite part of the book was near the end, when Emmaline was pretty sick. We got to know about her family, the true story. And oh my gosh. It was heartbreaking. And it was the part that I enjoyed reading about the most. It was so real and honest and brutal. Wish there had been a bit more focus on it, but I'm happy with that little bit. I think this book could have a sequel. As I feel like a lot more could happen. And yeah. I would love to read another book from this story. It would be wonderful. I want it.There is a bunch of characters in this book. I liked most of them. Especially Thomas with his one arm. He seemed so kind. Yet the children feared him and that bothered me. I felt like he was lonely a lot. I would have loved to learn his story. And oh, I shipped him and Anna. Yes, I know, there wasn't anything about them anywhere. But I would have loved it. The children were okay to read about, but I think I only truly liked Emmaline and Anna. The others were a bit mean towards Emmaline, and I couldn't stand it.The Secret Horses of Briar Hill was such a stunning middle grade book. The writing is gorgeous and the time period was amazing to read about. The sick children broke my heart. I'm so glad I got to read and review this book early. I'm just a bit sad that I didn't love it, but I didn't not like it either. It was good. And I know that others will end up loving it. Just. Huge, huge thank you to Anna at Random House Children's Books. <3 It means the most to me that you could ship this print ARC to me. I'll treasure it.---This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here:

  • Tracey
    2018-11-26 01:21

    I didn't make a single note on this book, didn't save a single highlight. That's unusual for me; I usually take full advantage of my Kindle's abilities to augment my memory. Then again, I don't really need notes in order to remember this book. I'll remember it for a long time. It's a sweet, sad book set in the middle of WWII about a girl sent to a mansion deep in the English countryside that has been converted to a hospital. They're quarantined there, with an alarming disease – which is why Emmaline's family can't come to visit her. (Right?) She passes as much time as possible with her best friend, an older girl named Anna, drawing and talking about everything – including the beautiful winged horses they both can apparently see behind the many mirrors in the mansion. Emmaline's life is soon taken over by interlocking crises. One of the horses from that mirror world has crossed over to ours fleeing from the terrible Black Horse, and, badly injured, and only Emmaline can help her. Meanwhile, Anna's health falters, and the only person Emmaline can turn to for help with the quest involved in rescuing the injured horse is the one she fears most, the local boogeyman. All the while, Emmaline must also fight the doctor and the nurses who for some reason keep trying to curtail her nighttime trips into the hospital's grounds in the snow… That, of course, is the surface story. Beneath it is so much more. The Black Horse is genuinely frightening – I can only imagine the scars it would have left on my horse-obsessed child self – but despite that I wish I had been able to read it then, because just as real as the fearsome enemy is the magical world through the mirrors. I can guarantee I would have been looking at anything but my own reflection for months, hoping for a glimpse of a feathered wing or a whisking tail. (Which would be a far more enjoyable side effect than the outright covering of mirrors after that Doctor Who episode … ) But then again – no. I don't think I would really want to inflict the pain and grief in this book on my younger self. The war, the epidemic – are the horses a metaphor? Or could they, might they be real, a grace note of hope in a dark world? It's a heartbreaking book, gorgeously illustrated with deceptively simple black and white drawings. No, I think it's just as well I couldn't read this when I was smaller. It would have been crushing. The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

  • La La
    2018-11-23 02:25

    This was a genuinely nice story. The length was perfect for a Middle Grade, too. So many of the MGs I have read lately have been too long. The story dealt with war, sickness and death, but still managed quite a bit of Magical Realism whimsy. The historical elements seem to have been well researched.Another aspect I appreciated with this book is there was no adult thinking. Too many MGs as of late either have the MC thinking and acting like an adult, or are heavy on the adult secondary character POVs. MG age readers don't care for this; they want to be able to relate to the characters.A problem I have had with many Middle Grades in the past year, or so, has been grusome violence. This story proves you can deal with war, sickness and death without being too graphic. Some of the scenes were scary, but MG scary, not YA scary.My only problems with the story were a couple of scenes were a bit too long, and one of those lengthy scenes, although exciting, made no sense within the context of the story.This would be a wonderful chapter, or two, a night read aloud story. I think it would spark a lot of parent/child discussion.I was approved for an eARC, via Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

  • Lucas Fogaça
    2018-11-15 00:29

    Gostei do clima da história e das lições de coragem, imaginação, amizade, perseverança e a importância de ver a beleza do mundo mesmo em tempos difíceis, mas algo me impediu de realmente amar esse livro. Desconfio que seja a teimosia de Emmaline - ok que ela precisa salvar a égua, mas ARGH PARA DE FUGIR DO HOSPITAL.(Me dá uma agonia ver essas histórias com crianças que saem em aventuras tipo esta aqui e Em Algum Lugar nas Estrelas, porque elas estão sempre em perigo e os adultos parecem que não sabem lidar e cuidar da situação. Se bem que eu fui uma criança bem caseira e quieta, então qqr coisa pra mim é uma AVENTURA PERIGOSA ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)Esse livro daria uma linda adaptação em animação. Alô, @Disney.

  • Jessica
    2018-11-22 01:27

    Oh, this book. I borrowed this on a whim from the library, and I'm so very glad that I did. Megan Shepard has woven a beautiful tale in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. One that manages to mix fantasy and reality in a way that is both heartbreaking and sweet. I fell in love with Emmaline from page one, and I honestly wish that her story had gone on a little longer.The writing in this book felt so familiar. Like an old friend, that I hadn't picked up in a while. I'd most easily compare this to something like The Secret Garden, with its rambling estate and precocious young characters. There was just enough magic patchworked into this story as well, with Emmaline's winged horses taking center stage. Which was perfection, to be honest. While there are definitely sad undertones, since this takes place during wartime, the magic here helps keep things on an even keel. I don't know if Middle Grade readers will get the layers here, but even with just the winged horses it's an excellent story.As for the audiobook, I an attest that Fiona Hardingham is the perfect narrator for Emmaline's story. She brings the otherwordly place on the other side of the mirror, with its winged inhabitants, to life. I honestly think it gave me an even better experience than I could have hoped for. If you have an older MG reader, who is in love with simple magic, this is a book that you need to put in their hands. It was a gorgeous read.

  • Kate
    2018-11-20 03:27

    "I have a secret. I won't tell Benny and the other boys. They are like dogs in the night, snarling at anything that moves. I won't tell Anna either, even though she is nice to me and shares her colored pencils.But I'll tell you.This is my secret: there are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill Hospital."Review to come.

  • Misty
    2018-11-28 00:42

    I really enjoyed this book, but it was so so sad!!! I can honestly say that I feel really ignorant for not knowing all that has happened in history. Children going to live away from others because they have TB so others don't catch it from them. Leaving their families and homes behind. According to the Author's note this truly did happen back then. I've been very interested in World War II since I was young and never even knew about this happening. I loved the winged horse plot of the story and how Emmaline had to save the one that got into her world. I felt like Emmaline seeing the horses was to get her through her sickness and triumph over it. I seriously don't even know if what Emmaline saw was true for her or because of her illness. I'm going to believe that it was true for her. I adored this story and think younger readers will appreciate the plot. This is for middle school children, but I think younger children would benefit from reading this book.

  • Celeste_pewter
    2018-12-02 01:28

    I’ve always liked Megan Shepherd’s work, but the first indication that I had that The Secret Horses of Briar Hill was going to be something truly special, was when I described the book to a coworker’s thirteen-year-old daughter, and I watched her eyes light up.The idea of winged horses seemed magical to her, and I quickly learned that she was right. Because The Secret Horses… is a magical book, and I can easily see this book becoming a new American (and likely, global) classic.In a short but impactful 199 pages, Shepherd introduces readers to the young Emmaline, a girl who has been displaced during World War II, due to ill health. She’s in a pediatric hospital, away from all that she knows.Emmaline believes she sees horses in the hospital’s mirrors, and what follows is a quest that falls in tandem with her poignant struggles to recover from tuberculosis.Though the subject of Secret Horses is a serious one, Shepherd does a beautiful job of blending fantasy and historical fiction, to the point where young readers (and really, readers of any age) will be enthralled by this journey.We can’t help but be moved by Emmaline convictions (even if we aren’t always sure that what she’s seeing is truly happening), and her determination to do the right thing. It’s very much in the spirit of the greater world around her, and readers will likely feel the sense of kinship with someone who has been asked to grow up far quicker than she should have, but is willing to retain a sense of kindness and wonder about the world.​The many comparisons to the Narnian Chronicles are spot on, especially with Shepherd’s open-ended ending. But that’s the magic of the book; it lets you decide for yourself.​Highly recommend, full stop.

  • Demi Conard
    2018-12-08 20:28

    I finished this in a couple of hours and I absolutely loved every second of reading this!! The writing is wonderful and I love Emmaline with all my heart! From the first page, I loved her and I couldn’t wait to read the 228 pages ahead of me. She’s such a precious girl! You can’t possibly don’t like her. I loved the concept of this and younger readers will too!! It’s also good that I takes place while a war is raging, to let kids know that this happened in reality. I think it’s very important to have a balance between reality and imagination in a book for children, and it was very good balanced in this one! One of my goals was to read more middle grade books and to read more war books in 2018. SUCCESSS!! Here are some parts of the book I enjoyed and some paragraphs that got to me.“The others won’t say it aloud, not with Sister Constance’s watchful gaze right there, but I know they are thinking it. Thomas is a monster because he is missing something. I am a monster because I have too much of something. Too much hurt. Too much rage. I do not care. Only monsters, it seems, know that there are worlds and worlds and worlds, and ours is only one.”LOVED THIS OMG!“ ‘ Death isn’t the end for him. The Horse Lord says so.’‘If the Horse Lord said it, then it must be true.’‘And for me, if I die from the stillwaters.’‘If that happens, then you’ll fly the fastest of all the horses, I know it.’ “So this is a conversation between Thomas and Emmaline about the fact that people who die before their time has come, turn into flying horses. And I really liked this and I may have cried. Bye“I wonder whether Marjorie’s bird with the broken wing ever made it this high. I wonder whether any living creature at all ever makes it this high, or if it’s only the realm of floating gods.”THE MOMENT SHE WAS FLYING OMG MY HEART“There is color there. There are greens and reds and blues as deep as the sea. You just have to know where to look.”She’s living in Briar Hill where almost everything is grey or white. It’s war. This paragraph got to me. I HOPE YOU GUYS LIKED MY REVIEW❤️❤️Readdddd it!!

  • Brooke
    2018-12-09 00:34

    "Perhaps they never die at all. I quite believe that myself, and it is a comfort, don't you think? That there is a place where no one ever grows old?"Have you ever read a book and realized it's exactly the type of book you wished you wrote? Well this is mine. "The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read! On the page it's about a children's hospital during World War II where a little girl claims to see winged horses in the mirrors. Ultimately though, the story is about finding beauty in the darkness and I loved every single second of it! I read a review a few days ago about this book. The reviewer said, "it was like this book had forever held an invisible spot next to the classics such as The Secret Garden or The Chronicles of Narnia." Wow what an honor to say about a book and the author who wrote it, and I couldn't agree more. Read this book to your kids or students and other times take it off your shelf and read it by yourself. It's one to treasure for sure!

  • Melissa
    2018-12-03 22:34

    I lent this book to my 9 year-old niece to read before me, and her initial response was a skeptical "I don't usually read books with pictures." An hour later she was hugging it to her chest. So: Five Stars from her (clearly a tough critic), and I'll update my review when I've finished. :)